Parenting stereotypes have been around for almost as long as parents themselves – we’re pretty sure Pushy Cavemum was sending her little darlings out with the mammoth hunt as soon as they could walk.
Recent additions to the parental pool have included ‘tiger mother’, ‘helicopter parent’ and ‘tennis mum’.
We now have ‘snowplough parent’ to add to that trio, thanks to David McCullough, a teacher whose book You Are Not Special warns that parents who solve all their children’s problems while piling on the pressure to succeed, will end up with “anxious, dependent, narcissistic and careerist children”.
Last year, research from the University of Warwick found that children of overprotective parents were more likely to be bullied at school too – the “buffering” from negative experiences made them less able to cope.
With this in mind, let’s look at how not to bring up your kids…
Amy Chua penned Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother in 2011, which had the subtitle ‘How I was humbled by a 13-year-old’.
The Chinese American lawyer described her use of a strict, old-fashioned Chinese style of parenting, which involved such measures as telling her daughter she would give her dolls’ house to charity unless she learned her piano piece perfectly.
The book caused an uproar, but Chua wasn’t advocating this style – she abandoned it when her daughter rebelled.
Also known as a cosseting parent, the term stems from Israeli child psychologist and parenting expert Dr Haim Ginott’s 1969 bestselling book Between Parent and Child, which features a teenager who moans: “Mother hovers over me like a helicopter…”
Micro-management is the cornerstone of helicopter parenting, with parents of university kids in the US reportedly calling to wake them up in the mornings.
The rise of the mobile phone is blamed for an increase in this parenting style, as it makes it so much easier to keep tabs on children.
The newest term on the block, snowplough parents are overprotective in the extreme and clear every obstacle that lies ahead of their child.
But they also micro-manage and have the tiger mum thing going on, so they’re competitive with other parents and expect their children to do music lessons and after-school tutoring to get a place at the top universities.
David McCullough argues in his book You Are Not Special that this has led to a cult of ‘exceptionalism’ in which children are afraid to be average.
Stage Mum/Tennis Mum
Originally intended to refer to mothers of child actors who drive their kids to auditions and become their ‘momanager’, ‘stage mother’ now refers to any mum who tries to push their child into showbiz - think the mum of any little girl forced to take part in talent or beauty contests.
With tennis mum, for showbiz, read sport. Tennis mum is the type who straps a mini-racket to their toddler’s arm in a bid to make them a future world No 1.
British player Laura Robson’s mother Kathy apparently texts her during matches: “Generally it’s about my ball-toss,” the player has admitted.